Category: About Writing

Two Books About Hong Kong

Hong Kong Review of Books asked me to review two books on Hong Kong. Here are the reviews for Hong Kong on the Brink and Hong Kong Confidential.

AirBnB Books

I stayed at Rhona and Hugh’s excellent AirBnB in November. Apart from being wonderful hosts and fully deserving their five star rating, they introduced me to the writing of Sebastian Barry. Days Without End is set in the latter half of the nineteenth century in America, and follows Thomas McNulty and John Cole through their… Read more »

Books on Writing

I am not a fan of Stephen King. After pressure from a few friends, I tried Carrie and found it puerile; I gave him a second chance with The Shining and found it only little less. It may be that I’m not much into the horror genre, but I found the plots were just a little… Read more »

Suspending Disbelief

Milan Kundera observed somewhere or other that one of the key things fiction does is ask the reader to suspend their disbelief. Three books I’ve read over the summer push that ask a little too far. Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews is a cold-war spy thriller set in contemporary times. The idea is that Dominika,… Read more »

Some South East Asian Novels

Four Reigns was first published as a newspaper serial in Thailand in the 1950s. The author, Kukrit Pramoj, was in the first generation of Thais to undergo and overseas education – he went to Queen’s College, Oxford – and I can’t help but think that there’s a lot of his own life in this book. Which makes for an interesting… Read more »

Gandhi, Jinnah and Shashi Tharoor

I have read a slew of books about India and its separation from Britain in the past year. As someone who was brought up in the generation that believed Britain’s empire in India, the Raj, was a force for good, they do not always make comfortable reading. Gandhi’s autobiography, subtitled “The Story of my Experiments… Read more »

Of Elephants and Brightness

One of the good things about airport bookshops in strange places is that they often stock books that I wouldn’t otherwise come across, and my two picks – from Dubai – were both worth the price. The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown by Vaseem Khan is a fun read. Set in Mumbai,… Read more »

Exercise in a Pill

`Exercise pill’ could deliver benefits of fitness in tablet form says a headline in yesterday’s Guardian. It sounds like more of a threat than a promise. In the last few days, I’ve Crewed on a yacht, juggling poles and sails on an under-crewed foredeck (and not done a very good job of it), Been for a short,… Read more »